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National Ballet of Cuba - Giselle - Salle Pleyel, Paris - July 2017


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I popped over to Paris for the final 2 performances of BNC's run of Giselle at the Salle Pleyel.  Coincidentally the last time I had seen their Giselle was also in Paris but in a "pop up" theatre in the Grand Palais.

 

Salle Pleyel has an art deco foyer and a plain, dark interior.  It had been a concert hall home to an orchestra which lost its funding and now presents all different types of show.  It struck me that the sightlines would be good wherever you sat.  I was on the front row of the stalls, which offered a perfect view, except that the wings were obviously so shallow that one could see more than would be usual even from the central block of seats.  Without an orchestra we were VERY close to the action!  Nevertheless it was a great place from which to watch the performance!

 

Sadly the company were performing to recorded music and I have to say that even to my uncultured ears it was not a good recording.  Occasionally, for example, there seemed to be some overly long gaps in the music - not sure if they were applause points but wouldn't have thought so with some of them.

 

I very much like Alicia Alonso's production of Giselle - it is so very clearly told with excellent mime too.  In this production it is very clear that Giselle dies of a broken heart rather than committing suicide with the sword (it is grabbed off her before she can do any harm),  The Wilis are very scary, some of their movements initially look a bit odd but they are very threatening and do actually make sense.  I did, however, find the lighting too bright and harsh, especially in Act 2.  I like the way the backcloth of trees is used to hide and reveal the Wilis at the start of Act 2 - it does make them much more mysterious and ghost like.

 

There are some differences to other traditional productions I have seen - the "harvest pdd is a pas de dix with 3 couples and 2 extra ladies.  It was lovely to watch the synchronicity of the dancers.  One other difference is that when Giselle offers to dance for Bathilde after the initial offer her Mum sends her into the house and it is the corps who dance for her.  The hoppy bit is done for the harvest celebration.   

 

On Tuesday evening Sadaise Arencibia and Raul Abreu led the performance.  Sadaise is a lovely Giselle, playful in act 1 and forgiving and loving in Act 2.  Raul played Albrecht as someone who genuinely adores Giselle right from the start and is very romantic and ardent.  Reading the programme I was shocked to realise that he can't be more than 19 or 20 - he gave such a mature performance.  I think he has a great future ahead of him.  I thought Ernesto Diaz was excellent as Hilarion - lovelorn and jealous and then horrified by Giselle's death.  In Act 2 the Wilis were magnificent.

 

If I thought I enjoyed Tuesday evening (and I did) I was transported to another plain on Wednesday evening when Anette Delgado and Dani Hernandez led the performance.  Dani plays Albrecht as a man who knows his position but is attracted to Giselle and then is broken when he realises what devastation he has caused.  What can I say about Anette - she was completely, utterly and totally magnificent.  Her technique is so strong and yet she is still so fragile and vulnerable.  In reality I was not watching Anette Delgado I was watching Giselle.  I was in floods by the end.

 

At the curtain calls Alicia Alonso came on stage and was greeted with rapturous acclaim.  What an amazing and gracious lady she is.  You could still see the beauty of her feet as she stood and of her hands and arms as she acknowledged the applause.

 

Of course, 2 people do not a performance make and I must say that I thought the whole company looked excellent.  Everyone was engaged in the action in Act 1, making it very believable.  The Wilis were exemplary in Act 2.

 

I was very glad I had made the trip to Paris (even though with the current parlous state of sterling it was ruinously expensive!).

 

Their production of Don Q opens this Saturday ... I really wish I could go and see that too!

 

(Just a bit more about Paris ... for some reason I had never before been into the Musee des beaux arts in the Petit Palais and I've got no idea why not.  Not only is the building gorgeous, the collections were very much to my taste.  The cafe and garden are lovely too.  I loved it so much I went in again the following day after a couple of hours spent in the Rodin Centenary Exhibition currently on at the Grand Palais.  I decided to rest my aching feet by taking a boat ride on the river and discovered the Batobus - a river bus the equivalent of the hop-on hop-off bus.  I bought a 2-day pass which was €19 (a one-day pass was €17).  There are 9 stops which cover many of the main sites.)

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Anette Delgado and Dani Hernández currently are their top principals. Tickets for the Salle Pleyel venue were ridiculously expensive, given the fact that the company performs to recorded music and the room is properly a recital hall.

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I happened to be at "Giselle" as well Tuesday evening and can confirm everything that Jan says, a beautiful performance led by a quite interesting couple! I liked especially Raul Abreu's dancing and though Sadaise Arencibia matched him well, I couldn't stop wondering, how would a younger dancer look by his side ( for me the age difference between two of them was a bit too evident).

   I was greatly impressed by the state of corps' dancing - absolutely perfect! A great evening that allowes me to look very much forward to their "Don Quijote" performance on Saturday!

 

 

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Oooo jealous you are seeing Don Q ... I love the BNC production!  (Did you see this production when the RDB did it about 8 or 9 years ago.  The night my friend and I were there Anette Delgado and Joel Carreno were guesting - it was a magnificent night!).

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Well, one more reason to wait impatiently for tomorrow's performance ( it'll be a matinee for me)! I've seen " Don Q" while living in Cuba for many years ago and actually my love for ballet started with BNC performances as I spent my childhood in Cuba. But tomorrow will be the first time when I'll get the opportunity to enjoy this ballet consciously!

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Alicia Alonso was one of the first ballet autographs I got way back when I was 12/13 at an RAD gala at Drury Lane circa 1960!! 

I still have this treasured programme and the first time I got Fonteyns autograph....she did a piece from "The Firebird"

I also got the Tallchief sisters and John Gilpins from the same show 

Alicia Markova danced then too but can't remember whether her autograph is on the programme which is at home.

 

Looks like you had a great trip to Paris Janet 

Rejane Garcia taught us a little from the Cuban Ballet version of Giselle on a workshop a couple of years ago would love to see them perform.

.

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